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Co-Founding Partner, Rachel Haugh, was invited to speak alongside Dr. Margaret Ikpoh and Helen Gribbon of Renaissance Engineers at Monday's event, hosted by UrbanistasNW in collaboration with RIBA NW. Created with the aim of providing access to inspiring female leaders in celebration of International Women's Day, the live event was a fantastic opportunity to listen to role models from three disciplines as they discussed their respective careers and the positive moves that we can all make together to create a more diverse and equitable working environment.

Dr.Margaret Ikpoh opened the event by giving a brief overview of her career journey from salaried GP to Partner, addressing some of the challenges she faced along the way. Margaret highlighted the importance of addressing the lack of diversity in roles at senior positions and stressed the impact that strong, driven female figures have on younger generations, referring to activist Marian Wright Edelman's idea that "You can't be what you can't see." She went on to say that investing time in other people through mentorship is an amazing way to build networks and encourage others as they develop their careers. Margaret also emphasised the importance of men being active in promoting female achievements, and that we should all be supporting everyone to be the best versions of themselves.

Next Helen Gribbon discussed her career path, which she sees as a journey of creativity and collaboration. Helen set up Renaissance in 2012, with the aspiration of creating an environment she enjoyed doing business in, and that produced projects that she was passionate and excited about delivering. Helen finished by expressing the importance of feeling that your voice is heard, and your opinions and passions valued, and she emphasised seeking out work environments where this is happening. Like Margaret, she stressed the importance of self-promotion and shouting about your successes, and to remember that behind every great woman is herself.

Rachel began her speech by explaining that her own career path was inherently linked to the evolution of the practice. She detailed meeting Co-Founding Partner, Ian Simpson, after university, and how their shared ideas and aspirations led them to open a competition studio with the aim of testing their abilities. Almost 34 years on, the practice has around 85 members of staff across two offices, with a fantastic range of recently completed projects, and many more in progress. Significant to its success is the 50/50 partnership between Rachel and Ian which was established at its inception, and Rachel stressed the importance of creating inclusive places within which everyone can thrive. She was discouraged at school from becoming an architect, yet Rachel has found her career in the industry rewarding, stimulating, and varied and feels a responsibility to help create a more diverse profession due to this. Rachel expressed the hope that she would be able to "Inspire you to follow your dreams, have belief in yourself, be bold and choose to challenge, to follow your instinct, and pursue your passion in what you do."

The event really emphasised the importance of raising the profiles of women and exposing strong female figures to the younger generation. All three women stressed the idea of mentorship, highlighting that it is paramount to creating our future leaders as it establishes an amazing, shared space for support and empowerment. All feel that it is vital to encourage people in their progress and career development through a supportive network to build and improve the percentages of women rising through the ranks.

It was amazing to see our company represented at this event, and we feel at SimpsonHaugh that International Women's Day is a great opportunity for us to thank our female colleagues for their commitment and invaluable contribution to our practice's success.